Ralph Nader, consumer advocate, lawyer, and author, spoke at Portland, Oregon's Bagdad Theatre February 13, 2007. Ralph's new book is titled, "The Seventeen Traditions". www.seventeentraditions.com
Filmed by William Seaman
pdxjustice Media Productions www.pdxjustice.org
"I've never written a book like this before, and I want to explain why I wrote it, in addition to being a love story, for my mom and dad and my sisters and brother. I wrote it because...if you are looking for active citizens to help you make a better country or community, after a while you run out of exhortations and you ask yourself, 'how do we get more active citizens?'"
"Sometimes you have a demonstration, you have a march, people come and they connect, or somebody has a tragedy and forms something like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. Or they might come out of the Universities, perchance, having some sort of mission, whether in science, engineering, politics, economics, organizing, whatever. But it's never enough, there are never enough active citizens."
"And if you look at the generation of citizens who are active from the getgo, you go back to the family."
From here Nader speaks about the Family in America, how it has become "a political football," coming under tremendous "economic pressure, the separation hour after hour of the parents and the children, long commutes.....commercial pressure; we're in the first generation of systematic direct commercial marketing to little children, bypassing their parents and undermining parental authority....."
These remarks continue, criticizing what he calls, "corporate child molesters," leading up to the foundation for his book, the upbringing he received by his parents. As he states early on, "the quality of the world is traced to the quality of upbringing."
His parents arrived in America at age nineteen from Lebanon , having to learn a new culture and language, in great part from their children. "They had a tradition of reciprocity, their children of course immediately being born here....they taught the parents, and the parents integrated it into their own framework, ethical and advisory framework. And the tradition of reciprocity never left us."
Nader slowly goes through the 17 traditions by which he was raised., the first of which was learning to listen. His stories are close to his heart and therefore, I believe, will strike a resounding cord in anyone who listens to his words. Flush with anecdotes of life at home and brimming with love and respect for his parents, this presentation is much different than the usual Nader critique of government and society, though such criticism is at the heart of the need for these traditions.
He finishes with, "their strengths were my metabolism, they propelled me to try to reach as many people as I could, and to try to show them that most of our problems have solutions, if only people would give of themselves enough time to stand up and be counted. And if only some of us would stand up and lead. For the people do have the power, but only if they recognize it and take the time to apply it."
"That is the biggest IF in politics, isn't it? But that is the best reason for trying to make the flowers of Democracy bloom."